Monday, July 30, 2007

MISC Notices & Press Releases

Fundraiser Supports community targeted for water board enforcement
“Support your Neighbors” BBQ on Aug. 19

A drive-through chicken barbecue on Sunday, Aug. 19 is a community fundraiser for all property owners sent notices of Violation in May, and those randomly selected by the water board for enforcement.

All proceeds from the “Support Your Neighbors” event will benefit the Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund (PZLDF) enforcement appeal filed May 25th.

Chicken dinners are $10. Tickets are on sale now for the “Take Out” barbecue, which will be held between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the South Bay Community Center, 2180 Palisades Ave. Call 534-1913

Individual’s homes and businesses still face a significant threat of enforcement based on the water board issuance of individual Cease and Desist Orders as recently as May 10, 200, and threats of further enforcement action against the rest of the community pending the outcome of the 218 vote. “The enforcement threat looms for the rest of the community as large as ever, according to Chris Allebe, and like those of us with the misfortune of being arbitrarily selected; it’s a real and ever-present part of our lives and does not go away.”

The event is organized through Citizens for Clean Water. The group, which spearheads the legal defense fund, is dedicated to clean water, regulatory compliance, and protection of property rights.

For those unable to attend the event, donations to the legal defense fund may be dropped off at Coast National Bank or mailed to PO Box 6095, Los Osos CA 93412. Checks may be made payable to PZLDF. Or donate online at

For more information, call 534-1913.

# # #


There'll be the regular TAC meeting, Monday July 30, 7 – 9:30 pm. in Los Osos Community Center.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Tell Me, Daddy, Was That Masked Man Robin Hood, Or Just Playing Him On TV?

So, I’m reading the latest Bay News, and there’s Jack Beardwood’s front page story, “Deer Killed With DFG’s Blessings,” complete with photo of a dead-as-a-doornail doe on the ground with an arrow sticking out of her neck.

O.K, so it turns out that a doe and her two fawns (along with, no doubt, other deer) have been coming down out of the hills for din-din in the Pecho Road area of Los Osos to raid various farms and, continues the story, “Other businesses in the area have had deer eating into their profits too. Hope Merkle, manager of the neighboring Los Osos Valley Nursery, said they have suffered about $5,000 in losses since February, due to the activity of five or six deer. Losses include $700 in avacdao plants, peas , petunias, geraniums, and apple trees. The deer also destroyed 40 rose bushes just before Mother’s Day. Price was $26 apiece. Despite their losses, she said they decided not to pursue a depredation permit.”

However, there are “commercial agricultural operations” out in that neck of the woods, full of “fruit trees, tomatoes and asparagus [that] had been eaten heavily by deer,” and the story implied that an [unnamed landowner] was the one who asked for and was granted a “depredation permit,” that is, a permit by Fish and Game that would allow the person in question to kill the deer that are munching up his crops.

Still O.K. Too bad, but, O.K. It happens. As the story notes, “When wildlife loses its fear of humans, there are harsh consequences, said F&G warden Lt. Dean] Hileman. For that reason, it is unlawful to feed deer and other wildlife. Deer attract mountain lions – their natural predators – and bucks that are no longer afraid of humans can become dangerous.”

“What I want to do is educate people on how important it is to keep our wildlife wild,” he said. “When we start making pets out of wildlife, whether intended or not, this will ultimately result in their demise. It is very unfortunate that wildlife has to suffer because of human interaction. We don’t want the two fawns stranded because their mom got shot.”

All too true, Lt. Hileman, all too true. But, then I get to this part in the story, the part about “an arrow embedded in [the doe’s] neck,” and this capper: The shooter apparently “used dogs to track the injured [doe, the one with the arrow in her neck] but gave up after it escaped to vacant land to the west of the nursery.”

Uh, so, let’s see if we have this straight; landowner gets fed up with depredations by deer, in this case a doe that apparently had fawns, said deer, that may or may not have been the crop muncher out of, apparently, a bunch of deer in the area that have gotten used to showing up because the humans didn’t make a point of shooing them away, fencing them out, or are growing edible stuff that hungry deer can’t resist, so the fed up landowner gets a depredation permit then goes out with a bow and arrow and shoots the doe through the neck, the doe runs because it wasn’t a clean shot, suffers God knows how long until she likely slowly bleeds to death and the shooter can’t find the body, even with dogs, and apparently doesn’t know about the fawns, and the doe finally dies?

Now, the questions: How many people do you know are dead shots with a bow and arrow? How many people do you know who THINK they are dead shots with a bow and arrow, fashion themselves Robin Hood, go shoot a deer and miss the clean kill-shot (hint: It’s not the neck, try lower down and towards the rear and hope your arrow doesn’t bounce off the ribcage?) so the animal end us with an arrow sticking out of it, runs away, thrashes around and dies slowly?

Right. I know a lot of Robin Hood wannabes, but very few who can make the cut to being the real thing.

So, do we need to be asking Fish & Game whether allowing civilians to hunt down deer with bow & arrows is actually a humane way to go? Lord knows, having some Los Ososian wandering around with a high-powered rifle is even creepier, but . . .

For now, the fawns are apparently old enough to forage on their own, but with no mom, they’ll likely run into trouble and end up either road kill or dinner for a hungry coyote or mountain lion. As Lt. Hileman said, “there are harsh consequences” when wildlife lose their fear of humans.

The story notes that F&G, “In anticipation of a public outcry caused by the killing of the deer” . . . “would hold a public meeting to address concerns. No date has been set but it would likely be held at the South Bay Community Center.”

Oh, goodie, can’t wait for THAT meeting. You thought Sewer War Meetings got lively, I can only imagine what that one will be like.

One serious question I will have is this: Since there are actually very few dead-eye dicks in the world, and even fewer Robin Hoods, instead of issuing “depredation permits” to people of, uh, unproven bushcraft skills – especially for use of bow and arrow, a notoriously sloppy weapon in untrained hands – would it have been safer, easier, and more humane to call in a F&G trained tracker/hunter for, at least, a clean kill?

Yeah, I know, too expensive, I’m sure.

Well, if nothing else, the meeting may be able to educate people out of their Disney Mind Frame – it’s not Bambi, Mother Nature is not kind, and the Law of Unintended Consequences are always in play.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Yes, We Have No Water, So Go Right Ahead And Build That Mega-Mansion With Four or Five Bathrooms And Lots Of Non-Xerescaping, No, No, It’s Fine, Take All The Water You Want, Pay No Attention To Those Annoying People Whining That You’re Sucking Up THEIR Water While They’re Stuck In A Moratorium, Bwa-hahahah, Tough Luck Suckers!

Well, ya gotta laugh at the mixed message the BOS sent yesterday. Just prior to voting in all kinds of recommendations to put in place a Severity III Water Shortage Plan (the highest level short of a complete lock-down), the Supes refused to put the kibosh on a controversial mega-mansion a-building outside the PZ here in beleaguered Sewerville. They also refused to listen to LOCAC’s recommendation for a temporary building moratorium until the various water measures can be verified as actually working.

Nope, it’s build first, THEN when the wells run dry, everybody can stand around and say, Well, Dang!

Some other interesting tid-bits at the BOS meeting, and later that night the TAC meeting, concerning both Sewer & Water:

-- A snippet of tape from the recent RWQCB hearing in Watsonville was played. Seems the Board didn’t know what the status was of The Los Osos 45, you know, the 45 homeowners who were singled out for a year of hell and were finally issued CDOs and CAOs. Board thought in some way that these orders were merely “in abeyance,” but weren’t sure, that the Notices of Violation recently sent out to everyone in the PZ were simply notices, that there were no consequences associated with the NOV, (Really? No consequences? So why bother to send them out?), then they chatted about how they couldn’t rescind those 45 CDO/CAO orders without a hearing – a hearing? Oh GAWD, don’t let’s go there, you mean, actually open that can of worms again? – obviously it was an idea that fell with a resounding silent thud – but, oh, well, not to worry, what-ever, it didn’t really matter since that was, like, so yesterday . . . Move along, move along, more tea! More tea! Unless, of course, you happen to be one of the 45 with a legal CDO/CAO on your home, but then you don’t count in this sick game, anyway. You never did.

--The Tri W Permit from the Coastal Commission is now looking slightly weird. First, it’s still not clear to me just who “owns” it – the county? The CSD? One of the things constantly touted about the Tri W project is that it’s “permitted,” but clearly, with closer study by the TAC and the new regs on water reuse, the new rules that may pertain to the Bay now being designated as a State Marine Reserve, the ongoing questions raised by Ron Crawford about “bait & switchy,” the rescinded Statement of Overriding Considerations (no documentation for the “community held values” of having a sewer plant in the middle of town so a park could be attached to it), it’s becoming clear that that permit may now be turning radioactive: Is the Old Project still the Old Project, or has time and regulations morphed the Old Project into something resembling a New Project, which would have to be reviewed by the CC-- Oh GAWD, don’t let’s go there, you mean actually open that can of worms again? – and so forth.

-- Some speakers asked if there could be a split 218 assessment vote – a $2 -3 million assessment to allow for CEQA studies to be done, then a follow up “real” 218 vote for a final project, with known site, size, price tag, etc.

Paavo made it clear that that won’t fly for a couple of reasons: Funding for “studies” would be a “special tax” that would require 2/3 vote. Two-thirds is really hard to get for any project, whereas the regular 218 assessment would only require 50% plus 1. Much easier. So, a mini CEQA ain’t gonna happen.

-- During the due diligence phase (after the 218 is passed) everything that’s on the TAC table and/or on the County table (i.e. companies like Orenco and Pio Lombardo’s Purple Pipe Plan using decentralized plants) are supposed to be due diligenced along with the generalized work done by the TAC, i.e. general STEP, GRAVITY, PONDS, BIOLAC & etc. If everyone keeps their thumbs off the table at that point, and keeps working with solid numbers – beware of GIGO -- there’s a good chance the right project will rise to the top.

When the BOS meeting switched to the Level Three Water Severity portion of the program, a few things popped out:

--First, and most important, it appears that the water purveyors are making good progress in their adjudication process. Golden State Water Co, for example, will be going before the PUC to get rate increases to cover their costs of new wells – moved so as to reduce pumping to the west so as to decrease salt water intrusion, and other plans to utilize the upper aquifer better, again so as reduce over pumping) S & T Mutual (Sunset Terrace) water company was again urged to consider installing water meters on the homes they service (I know, surprising that in this day and age of water scarcity, there’s meterless homes???), and all the water purveyors are moving to structured rates so as to make more water use really, really expensive, so as to encourage conservation.

But the most interesting item, for me, that came out of the BOS meeting, came later that night at the TAC. It became clear that the cost for a Level I water benefit from any sewer project was nearly identical with the costs for a project that delivered a Level II water benefit, so the TAC consensus was, let’s not even waste time with any project that only delivers a Level I.

Furthermore, with full participation of the water purveyors, the county’s various water saving/ retrofit Severity III plans, and by separating out the sewer assessment benefit to be paid to those within the PZ and the water benefit, to be a general benefit assessment to be paid for by all those outside the PZ, (who are getting the benefit of clean water) it may be possible to bring in a project that delivers a Level III water benefit of balancing the basin, but do it at a Level II cost.

So, that’s something to keep an eye on as the process moves along.

-- Also of interest to me, were the folks who are part of “FAIR,” which is composed of vacant lot owners who came to the BOS to urge passage of this water plan. The “FAIR” folks are also going to be an interesting bunch to watch because it’s not known at this point whether or not they’ll get a vote on the sewer assessment – i.e. why be assessed for something you may NEVER get the benefit of, i.e. be able to build a home on your lot even after the sewer is installed because there’s no water. Which also raises other questions: The county allowed homes to be built outside the PZ, homes that have been sucking water out of the aquifer shared by all. Don’t know what’s “fair” about that, except it’s certainly a perfect example of how damaging and short-sighted the PZ was in the first place – a water basin is a water basin. It pays no attention to lines on a map.

Also unknown, if the PZ moratorium is lifted, how will new building permits be allocated? First come, first served? And what happens if people outside the PZ have reduced the resources available to those within the PZ thereby putting some PZ residents permanently out of business? Again, there’s that inherent unfairness with what the RWQCB did with those PZ lines.

--One nice thing about water saving in general, is it’s nearly impossible to get ahold of fixtures that aren’t water saving, unless you go to Canada or somewhere and smuggle in an old gazillion-gallon-a-flush toilet. So whenever anyone builds, remodels or upgrades, they’ll end up improving the situation.

--Another question that really should be looked at: According to the County’s figures, 70% of all water use is indoors, with 30% for outdoor use. Can the county and the RWQCB agree on some kind of safe, effective greywater system that would be allowed for Los Osos that could be installed NOW by homeowners who want to start saving that 30% immediately? Pio’s Purple Pipe Plan promises to do just that, but his proposal won’t be looked at by the TAC, to my knowledge. Let’s hope the County takes a serious look at it before moving ahead, and answers the question, how quickly would an immediate 30% outdoor water use reduction effect salt water intrusion . . . and at what cost . . . compared with the other plans now being looked at.

-- And, of course, the most obvious question that remained hanging in the air: How is it possible that Los Osos went through water severity Level I, then Level II and nobody did anything about it and here we are, ka-boom, Level III and only now is anyone lifting a finger. How is that possible? .

Answer: Silence

And, finally, at the TAC meeting, the Finance Committee held up a bar graph that indicated that when comparing capital costs for any combination of STEP/GRAVITY/and/or/Ponds/Biolac/ OxidationDitch, all those combinations were within a reasonable hailing distance of each other (with STEP being slightly cheaper)

But if you compared those cost combinations with TRI W, TRI W flew off the chart. Waaaaaaaaaay more expensive.

Which once again prompts me to say, “Oh Lucy, Jooooo Gotta Lotta ‘Splainin Toooo Doooo……”

Oh, and almost forgot: The July-August edition of The Rock ( is out, with interviews with several Sewer Experts & Citizens.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I Demurrer, You Demurrer, We All Demurrer

Yes, it’s Alice in Wonderland Time again, time for more tea and some Funny Juice and Riddles: How is a raven like a writing desk? How can a judge review an administrative record that isn’t there? Does he seek it here? Does he seek it there? Does he seek it everywhere, that Damned Elusive Pimpernel? And just when did RWQCB’s Roger Briggs get downgraded from “critical” to . . . Roger Who?

Your Attorney General at work. Makes one feel all warm and safe, knowing that he’s on the job protecting the rights of citizens from run amok regulators, doesn’t it?

Press release from PZLDF:

Attorney General Office Files Demurrer in Response to Enforcement Appeal

The demurrer is a legal pleading by a defendant that says “you have not pled enough facts to support a lawsuit.” That is the response to the lawsuit filed May 25th that asks the courts to overturn enforcement actions placed on some of the 45 randomly selected homeowners in Los Osos.

The water board, represented by the State attorney general's office, without admitting or denying the allegations made in the appeal, is telling the court that the petition is not sufficient to warrant the court's time.

The demurrer is a tool often used by the water board to delay and defend against a strong case. The Attorney General's challenges to the Petition include attempts to: reduce the number of petitioners and respondents, to eliminate any CDO recipients who wish to preserve their promised anonymity, to limit any review beyond the administrative record which the agency has refused to produce since November of 2006.

The Prohibition Zone Legal Defense Fund, Gail McPherson says . "the Demurrer' and Motion to strike is a weak attempt to get the Judge to Gut the case before a hearing. The pleading seeks to confuse issues, and raise irrelevant claims in order to remove legitimate arguments from the lawsuit. "

If the State can "slice and dice" the appeal, such as denying review of the regulations, which are the very basis for the enforcement, or remove the parties to the action, it is worth the shot. By tossing in irrelevant commentary in as “facts” some issues might be removed. If these are critical points, the State can develop an advantage before a Judge ever hears the case.

One example is the water board says the Court cannot require the water board to produce the administrative record. Then with circuitous logic states. "until this court has reviewed the administrative record, it should not grant Petitioner's relief (including their prayer requesting preparation of the administrative record)".

Another example of obfuscation is a writ filed by Sullivan and Associates in November 2006, on behalf of the homeowners, in which the Attorney general's office argued that the Court had no jurisdiction to review the water board's proceedings until after cease and desist orders were issued. Now they argue the Court has no jurisdiction to declare that the challenged enforcement actions are unenforceable, and violate Petitioner's constitutional and statutory rights.

The same writ previously asked for key witness Roger Briggs' presence at the enforcement hearings in December 2006. At the beginning of the enforcement hearings, the water board attorney, Lori Okun, characterized the executive officer, Briggs to be a critical witness to the prosecution case, yet he was not available to the defendants for depositions or testimony at the enforcement hearings. The attorney general's office argued and the court ruled this could be brought up after the board hearing.

Now the demurrer claims their actions were already found constitutional and the court still can't review Water Board orders.

Morongo v RWQCB [excerpt below]

On April 28th 2006, A motion to dismiss was filed by Steven Onstot, attorney defending the Los Osos Community Services District in the individual enforcement hearings. This was based on a higher court decision that the water board attorney could not serve to advise both the prosecution and the hearing board.

The Board denied the motion, but Lori Okun was removed from the case based on a possible procedural conflict in May 2006. Recently the decision that was the basis for the motion to dismiss was upheld by the courts, and its principles still apply.

The water board has made it clear that the enforcement could cost Los Osos residents their homes if a 218 vote is not passed and a sewer system build by 2011. Those with the enforcement orders believe both the basis for the enforcement (Resolution 83-13 that limited construction of homes built after 1988), as well as the procedural violations to due process and civil rights are subject to judicial review.

The response to the demurrer and motion to strike is August 9, 2007, and the demurrer will be argued before the Judge Aug 22, 2007.

For more information
Citizens for Clean Water PZLDF Gail McPherson 805-459-4535 or 805-534-1913

Intro excerpt from Morongo v RWQCB:

Is a water right holder facing license revocation by the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) deprived of due process of law when the revocation is being prosecuted by the same attorney who simultaneously acted as legal advisor to the Water Board in an unrelated administratiave proceeding? The trial court answered this question in the affirmative. Relying on Quintero v. City of Santa Ana (2003) 114 Cal. App. 4th. 810 Quintero) as conttrolling prescedent, the court issued a writ of mandate ordering the disqualification of Water Board Attorney Samantha Olsen as a prosecutor in the case.

The Water board appeals, claiming that (1) Quintero was wrongly decided and should not be followed by this court, and (2) Quintero is distinguishable and did not require disqualification of Attorney Olson from acting as prosecutor in the revocation proceeding.

We decline the Water Board's invitation to part company with Quintero. We also conclude that the trial court correctly allowed Quintero and other precedents in ordering Attorney Olson disqualified. We shall affirm.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Monday, July 23 at 7:00 p.m. at the Washington Mutual Bank on Los Osos Valley Road, Rob Miller and/or Paavo Ogren are supposed to be presenting information and answer questions on the proposed 218 sewer vote.

Tuesday, July 24, 2:00 p.m. in the board of Supervisor's chamber, downtown SLO, the BOS will be discussing the water severity situation in Los Osos. Since the Hideous Los Osos Sewer Wars are all about WATER (or lack of same) this will be a critical meeting.

Tuesday, July 24, 7:00 p.m. South Bay Community Center, Los Osos: TAC meeting on the Viable Project Alternatives (Chapter 7)

Actually, hope you'll plan to attend all meetings, since they're certainly linked. It's getting interesting in the assessment considerations as to what will happen to property owners of empty lots: if there's no water, they can't develop those lots. Will they get a 218 vote even though they get no present "benefit," and possibly may never get a benefit and never get to develop? Or do they get a vote and thereby get to influence a vote to get a sewer built, then with the sewer moritorium lifted, push for imported water (at additional $$) so they can develop? And are there alternative systems being looked at that get to the heart of recharge/stopping saltwater intrusion/purple pipe?

All of which goes to the heart of . . . water, water, nowhere, nor not a drop to drink.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Calhoun’s Cannons, The Bay News, Morro Bay, CA for July 18, 2007

O Lucky Man

If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.
President George Bush, Sept 30, 2003

Well, truer words were never spoken. It’s not what you know, but who you know, that counts in this world. And Lucky Scooter Libby can thank his glittering stars that he knows a lot of well connected cronies in a Capitol of Cronies. He can especially thank his pal, President Bush, for commuting his sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice. And thank his future stars that there’s still the possibility that as our Crony-in-Chief hustles out the door at the end of his disgraceful administration he’ll pardon Libby altogether – the ultimate Crony Cash-In – which means Libby will walk free, right into lucrative lobbying jobs, a big, fat tell-nothing book contract, his fines and legal bills reimbursed by all his generous friends.

And it’s not just a case of being rich and famous, either. Poor Paris Hilton thought she was a Somebody, but she still got some jail time for her crimes. Clearly, just being a Somebody doesn’t count. But being a Somebody who knows the Right Somebody, well, that does the trick, doesn’t it?

Our Crony Veep must also be heaving a sigh of relief. Libby’s stay-out-of-jail card removes the threat that some ugly prison time might have loosened Libby’s lips and maybe sunk Dick’s ship. That’s safely avoided now.

Of course, accountability for OCV is highly problematic anyway since he has recently declared himself to be outside of government altogether. Apparently, Cheney has become a Chimera, accountable to no one when he isn’t hiding inside his super secret, man-sized, walk-in office safe, that is.

Oh, sure, some Democrats in Congress are making noises that they want an investigation to see if this latest sweet deal is actually an ongoing conspiracy to further obstruct justice, but Democrats don’t have a large enough majority in Congress to counter Republican interest in keeping all this zipped up and under the carpet. After all, both Republicans and Democrats are now chasing the same vital agenda: Nov, 08-- How to return to/get/hold/stay in power. Compared to that, law, truth, justice and the American Way aren’t worth zip.

True, according to various polls, the American people are indicating disgust with Congress and low ratings for this administration, but the American people have nobody to blame for this mess but themselves. They voted these guys into office, not once but twice, then during the last election they ensured the status quo; a grid-lock, do-little Congress. So the cronies in office will continue to do what they were elected to do: Look out for number one.

It’s all part of the End Game started by Ronald Reagan over 20 years ago: The Devaluation of the Commons, the Government Is Bad Holy Mantra, the Rise of Privatization via The Corporation, the Lack of Accountability Creed, the Rule of I’m All Right, Jack. It’s the untrammeled reign of the Greed is Good Boys, the unfettered free market at work, capitalism at its finest, all fully supported by the American voter! Poisoned pets, imported tainted foods, a gutted EPA, a gutted FDA, an outsourced country, a privatized war, a conservative Supreme Court now tending to rule in favor of corporations and businesses over the Common Citizen. (Don’t even think about Class Action Lawsuits; they’ve gone the way of the Dodo. You want justice for The Little Guy? Go buy it, just like everyone else!) It’s the neo-con’s Conservative Dream Come True, as American as apple pie.

Even down to this recent L.A. Times headline: “[private] Contractors outnumber troops in Iraq,” which was wonderfully shocking in its honesty, at least -- War as Big Business with profits funneled directly into private corporate coffers that are often located off-shore in foreign countries untouchable by those nasty-sticky IRS fingers, while liabilities are shoved off onto taxpayers when the privately hired contractors are injured, tossed off the job, left uninsured and/or end up on the public dole and on various taxpayer financed Medicaid programs. Crony Capitalism at work -- Bury the silverware and hide the hogs in the swamp!

Unless you’re someone named Scooter Libby, of course. Then it’s all gravy.

Momma may have . . . . Poppa may have . . . but God Bless the Child that’s got his own . . . that’s got his own . . .

Sunday, July 15, 2007

It’s Not A.A.A.D.D., It’s Multi Tasking

Ah, yes, it’s a lovely Sunday morning. Think I’ll go out in the back yard and sit in my Adirondack chair. No, wait, have to prune that bit of vine, Uh-Oh, the dog’s dug a hole, better fill it back up, then I’d better go and . . . .

The following from the internet. Don’t let this happen to you!

Recently, I was diagnosed with A.A.A.D.D - Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder. This is how it manifests: I decide to water my garden. As I turn on the hose in the driveway, I look over at my car and decide it needs washing. As I start toward the garage, I notice mail on the porch table that I brought up from the mail box earlier. I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car. I lay my car keys on the table, put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table, and notice that the can is full. So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the garbage first. But then I think, since I'm going to be near the mailbox when I take out the garbage anyway, I may as well pay the bills first. I take my check book off the table, and see that there is only one check left. My extra checks are in my desk in the study, so I go inside the house to my desk where I find the can of Coke I'd been drinking. I'm going to look for my checks, but first I need to push the Coke aside so that I don't accidentally knock it over. The Coke is getting warm, and I decide to put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold. As I head toward the kitchen with the Coke, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye--they need water. I put the Coke on the counter and discover my reading glasses that I've been searching for all morning. I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I'm going to water the flowers. I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote. Someone left it on the kitchen table. I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV, I'll be looking for the remote, but I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs, but first I'll water the flowers. I pour some water in the flowers, but quite a bit of it spills on the floor. So, I set the remote back on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill. Then, I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do. At the end of the day: the car isn't washed the bills aren't paid there is a warm can of Coke sitting on the counter the flowers don't have enough water, there is still only 1 check in my check book, I can't find the remote, I can't find my glasses, and I don't remember what I did with the car keys. Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all damn day, and I'm really tired. I realize this is a serious problem, and I'll try to get some help for it, but first I'll check my e-mail.... Do me a favor. Forward this message to everyone you know, because I don't remember who the hell I've sent it to. Don't laugh -- if this isn't you yet, your day is coming!!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Is That Purple Pipe In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Glad To See Me?

Listened to Dave Congalton's show yesterday. Pio Lombardo was on with Gail McPherson of PZLDF. Lombardo and Associates ( was discussing their proposal for solving several critical wastewater issues for Los Osos with decentralized systems. The same proposed project was written up by Jack Beardwood in this week's Bay News.

From my notes, and the paper's story, here's what I find interesting:

-- Pio's Project is a STEP collection system that filters, de-nitrifies (3 mg discharge, well below the 7 mg permitted by the RWQCB), produces very little sludge to be disposed of, treats the wastewater to Title 22 unrestricted non-potable use in a series of treatment facilites that would be below ground (Is this deja vu? Remember Tri W Version #1 was supposed to be "buried and drop dead gorgeous" before it went all bait & switchy?) and would return the nice title 22 water back to the homeowner via purple pipe to be used for landscapeing, which -- according to Pio -- represents about 50% of our water use, thereby stopping the really serious problem here in Los Osos of saltwater intrusion caused because we're already in overdraft. All this can be done for a cost of about $31,000 per property ( $31,000 x 20 year loan at ? % = per month guestimate? how's about a 30 year loan? Ka-ching! ka-ching! Start yer calculators!)

Interestingly, by locating the underground facilities throughout the town, it's possible that gravity alone could be used as a collector for some areas, i.e. if the area to be collected was well above where the treatment site was located, there would be no need for any in-tank pumps. Simply allow gravity to do the work of drawing off the wastewater for treatment.

Additionally (more deja vu) buried facilities would allow for parks to be located on top of them, so we're back (O Irony!) with some elements of Tri-W as well as the original Ponds of Avalon. In this case, X number of "pocket parks" dotted throught the community.

According to the Bay News, quoting Pio," Operation of these wastewater systems is simple, requiring little operator attention. Our current comparable facilities operate with monthly visits -- primarily to collect samples for performance monitoring. Electrical needs are predominately to operate small pumps that operate intermittently. No chemicals are needed. There is little sludge production in the treatment system -- significantly less than an activates sludge plant. Odor issues are mitigaged as there is no sludge processing and soil or carbon filters are used for air venting of treatment processes."

The Bay News also noted, "He said the treated wastewater would be available for use in watering landscaping at individual lots and it would lower homeowners' water bills as much as a half. That could be the most attractive feature of all. The town's drinking water wells are currently in overdraft." (The reduced water bills would have to be factored into the overall cost of the system. The other systems being looked at don't include a water-return component. Indeed, water costs remain an escalating issue for everyone in Los Osos and must be added onto the wastewater treatment costs for the other systems.)

And, like any STEP system, Lombardo's plan uses smaller pipe that can be laid with directional boring, thereby saving the cost and environmental disruption and damage of digging ginormous trenches in the streets. Faster, too.

Mr. Lombardo noted on Dave's show, that the "county has been professional about reviewing" his proposal. Glad to hear it.

His proposal should now be on the table for scrutiny by county engineers, the TAC, and the public. Along with the other systems being looked at.

Personally, I hope all involved will take a serious look at that purple pipe. If, indeed, this town is using 50% of it's drinking water to water its petunias, drinking water drawn from an aquifer that's already seriously in overdraft, in a basin that's now, I believe, already listed as a Level III severe water shortage area, then any system that actually can stop 50% of the pumping really needs a serious look-see.

To date, the other systems being considered have reportedly resulted in purple piping simply not being finacially feasible, due to the distances involved. Localized cluster systems may make that piping doable since, I presume, both pipes (wastewater out-purple pipe back in) can be laid at the same time. (More deja vu: The Ponds of Avalon were a STEP system and centrally located in an effort to keep piping costs low. The same economies vis a vis purple piping may be at work with decentralized cluster systems.)

Well, the county engineers will hopefully continue to be "professional about reviewing" Lombardo's proposals, and any more that are out there that can be brought to the table. Serious vettng may winnow out some for both technical and/or financial reasons, then it'll be up to the homeowners to make some key decisions when the 218 assessment vote arrives.

So, stay tuned, as ever.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Head's Up

Today, on the Dave Congelton Show, KVEC, 920 AM, 4 PM

Pio Lombardo will be discussing decentralized wastewater treatment systems as a possible option for Los Osos. For those who missed his talk at the PZLDF meeting, here's an opportunity to learn about a system that could be a considered option. KVEC's call-in number is 543-8830, so if you have questions or concerns, please listen and call in. Great opportunity.

PZLDF Meeting on July 16, 6 PM will be a closed session only for CDO holders who are being represented by Sauna Sullivan.


Monday, JULY 23, 6 PM

PZLDF Meeting at the WA MU Bank (Los Osos Valley Rd. across from Vons) will presents:

Paavo Ogren & Rob Miller, who will speak on the 218 assessment.

A lot of people are expressing concern about that vote and how the assessment will be assessed and the vote held, here's an opportunity to learn more from the folks who will be in charge of that. So, plan to attend.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Put Down That Coffee Cup And Step AWAY From The Blogsite

This morning I received the following email from Noel King, Department Director, Department of Public Works, SLO County. He said:

Hello Ann,I was just eating my lunch and catching up on some recent days' blogpostings. I am always amazed at some of the misinformation that appears in the various blogs, and the unfortunate fact is that if left unchallenged, many of the readers take the statements as fact. I just saw one post on your blog, dated this morning, July 10, from "conspiracy boy" that I felt the need to comment on. The post states "Did I hear correctly that Carollo got the $190 (million)plus contract for the pipeline imported water project? Hmmmmm. How Cozy!"To set the record straight, Carollo Engineers, the firm doing the preliminary engineering for us on the sewer project, has no involvement with the Nacimiento Pipeline project. The design firm is Black and Veatch, Jacobs is the construction management firm, and the construction work, the work referred to in the incorrect post, is split into five separate contracts, each of which will be awarded to the low bidder, by law. The bid openings have not yet occurred. The County Clerk will open three of the sealed bids on July 16, one on July 19 and one on July 26.Carollo is an engineering firm, not a construction company that bids on construction projects. Even if they were, conspiracy boy should change his blog name to "Carnac" if he knows who the low bidders were before the bids were even submitted. Please clarify for your readers that Carollo Engineering is not involved in the Nacimiento Pipeline project, although they are certainly well qualified to do the related engineering work. Thank you.

To which I replied, in part:

PUBLIC SERIVCE WARNING ANNOUNCEMENT: Eating your lunch and possibly sipping coffee while reading the comment section of my blog is dangerous to one's health. Talk about blowing coffee through one's nose. The possibility of choking and falling over and striking one's head on a sharp desk edge is increased. Do not operate heavy machinery while reading that blogsite comment section. & Etc. The blogsite should only be read after ingesting about 1,000 mg of Valium or a quart of Jack Daniels or both. Wear a football helmet. Thank you.

I haven't checked the comment section today -- which is sort of like a perpetual action machine, all wound up and chugging ahead no matter WHAT the posting; reprint a poem about cows and blam! they're back to screeching at one another about sewers --, BUT I hope you posted your comment?

If not, do you want me to post this email in the main blog section?

To which Noel replied, in part:

Thank you for getting back to me, and starting my day with a little humor.Please feel free to post my entire comment. This whole issue is complicated and sensitive enough without specific misinformation being posted, and it would be good to clear this up and try and keep the conversation focused on the real issues. Thanks again.

To which I need to remind readers, again:

All blog comments posted in the comment section need to be taken with about six thousand pounds of salt. Anonymous posters, even with cute nom-de-plumes are still anonymous posters and nothing they post should be taken as gospel or relating to any real-time fact or event happening on earth even.

The wastewater project Website is: There’s a link there with Paavo Ogren, Project Director and Noel King, Department Director. You can also link through to the TAC, send them questions, hopefully get some answers.

All the rest posted in the comment section is opinion, speculation, rumor, gossip, wild silliness, hilarious spoofery, raging nuttiness, in short, the blog comment section must be approached as CAVEAT EMPTOR to the max. So, mind the hot coffee as you read. Thank you.

Friday, July 06, 2007

PZLDF Meeting July 9

In case you missed Pio Lombardo’s presentation at the last PZLDF meeting, here’s a chance to hear about it again on Dave’s show. Also, for those interested in getting more information on the 218 vote, Rob Miller will be on hand to discuss those topics on the 23rd. The Washington Mutual Bank is on Los Osos Valley Rd. across from Rite Aid/Vons .

Citizens for Clean Water --PZLDF

WILL MEET prior to the TAC meeting----

6:00 PM
Wa MU Bank

Learn the response by the RWQCB to:

Water Board Presentation and update by the County on July 6th
Request to Water Board Members to rescind 45 enforcement actions

Upcoming Speakers:
Monday JULY 23

Hometown Radio:
Dave Congleton Show-------Thursday July 12th --------4:00 PM
Pio Lombardo will talk on decentralized systems

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Calhoun’s Cannons The Bay News, Morro Bay, CA for July 4, 07

Isaac’s Storm Redux

Nature will win if we decide we can beat it.
Bill Read, NOA Weather Service.

The June 24, 07 L.A. Times story made me blow coffee through my nose in a gleeful snort. The picture that accompanied the story looked as if a HUGE Carnival Cruise ship had parked smack dab in the middle of a quaint Victorian village. It was Galveston’s docks, cruise ship central and, if plans by Galveston’s myopic civic leaders continue, it will be the future home of a huge new development – as the story continued – that has geologists warning of “ building along beaches that are likely to be erased by erosion within 30 years” and that constructing “artificial lakes and boat channels could help surging waters pierce the island during a major hurricane, possibly even splitting it in two”

Above all, the geologists have warned that the civic leaders “of this fast eroding barrier island – the scene of the deadliest hurricane in American history – are about to approve 4,000 new homes and two midrise hotels despite geologists’ warnings that the massive development would sever a ridge that serves as the islands natural storm shield.”

Happily eyeing all the nice tax money that will accrue to such a development, Galveston’s officials are apparently bent on ignoring a couple of key things: Past & Future.

As for the past, on Sept 8, 1900, a Category 4 hurricane swept through Galveston. The death toll has been estimated to have been between 6-12,000 people (By comparison Hurricane Katrina caused about 1,600 deaths).

According to a Wikipedia entry, Mr. Isaac Cline, the Galveston Weather Bureau Section Director, had written an article in the Galveston Daily News a few years previously “in which he argues not only that a sea wall was not needed to protect the city, but also that it would be impossible for a hurricane of significant strength to strike the island . . . the sea wall was not built, and development activities on the island actually increased its vulnerability to storms.”

Tragic irony: Mr. Cline lost his wife when his home was swept away during that terrible night, a tale chronicled in Erik Larson’s book, Isaac’s Storm.

So much for the Past. As for the Future, the good boosters of Galveston’s new plan apparently are unaware that something called Global Warming is upon us, bringing with it a rise in both sea levels and hurricane strength. For communities that are considerably above present sea levels, a degree of sanguinity about sea surge would be understandable. After all, glittering tax money from the developer’s hand always outweighs future tax-payer-financed clean-ups in the disastrous bush.

But for communities that lie at or below present sea levels? That blindness can only be described as comic.

In the case of Galveston, it’s coffee-through-the nose funny. Here’s the Times again: “’You would think that we would know better,” said the [planning] commissioner, Chula Sanchez. ‘I expected the city to be a little bit more enlightened than this. We have an eroding economy and an eroding beach, and right now [city officials] seem more concerned about the tax base. I really don’t think they realize the power of nature.’”

No, indeed they don’t. Like mad King Canute of old who commanded the seas to retreat from his power and majesty (and who drowned for his troubles), most of Galveston’s planning commissioners voted for the project and the City Council is set to approve it later on this year. And, unless some wiser heads prevail, soon there will be more huge Carnival Cruse ships pictured as if they were sitting right in the middle of downtown Galveston.

On the bright side, with rising seas and increasingly stronger hurricanes heading for the gulf regions, that image won’t be an optical illusion, a trick of the camera. Soon, Carnival Cruse ships actually will be sitting in the middle of what’s left of downtown Galveston.

And when the storms arrive and the seas rise, the laughter at such folly will die, along with a great many nice Galvestonians. Sadly, the survivors will then look around at the devastation and ask, “Why didn’t somebody see this coming?”

Well, someone did: Mother Nature. And a few geologists. But nobody was listening.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

So, what’s with the Tribune, anyway? Friday, Saturday, Sunday at the PAC was the first ever in SLOTown of the California International Choral Festival & Competition. Place is sold out. PAC is packed. All three days. Before the doors even open there are lines snaking all over the PAC plaza with people walking around asking, “Anybody got any extra tickets, please, please?” Seven Choirs are here, some from Finland, Uganda, the Phillipines, all the way from San Jose. Amazing singers. National costumes, folk songs, difficult competitive compulsories, a lifetime dream of SLO Vocal Arts Ensemble’s Director, Gary Lamprecht, a grand finale Sunday night with the massed choirs AND the ginormous Forbes Pipe Organ rattling the rafters, winners announced. Wooooo!

And on Monday morning, not a peep in the Tribune. Wonder who won the competition? Who knows? Curious for maybe a really swell picture of all the groups onstage? Sorry. Not a word. It’s as if this first time amazing event had never taken place.


On a happier note, the various choral groups, in addition to the formal three day competition, were performing at various venues around SLOtown and environs, including a hastily arranged concert last night at the Los Osos Community Center of the Imusicapella Chamber Choir from the Philippines. Many in the Los Osos Philippine community helped make that event possible and it was a stunner. The Imusicapella choir was the winner in most of the events in this year’s competition at the PAC, and is a young group – youngest is 13, the director only 39 – of students and professionals that regularly sing in their church choir back home in Imus. They were outstanding and it was really a treat to hear them again for a whole program, even though the acoustics in the community center are really awful.

Since this event was the very first one of its kind on the central coast, let’s hope that the template is now in place and maybe every other year the SLO Vocal Arts will play host to the festival again. And this time the Tribune might send a photographer, at least?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Why, Yes, It's Another Poem

On another fine sunny summer's day, time to hang out another load of laundry on my World Saving Solar Dryer. No need to rail and natter on about the sewer, even though I'm sure the sewer obsessed folk who visit this site will figure out a way to get off the profound point of this lovely poem and get back to nattering on about sewerish things. (Get out of the house. Take a walk. Go see the wonderfully funny new movie, "Ratatouille," heck, go see the movie then go home and make some. Read a good book. Share a favorite poem in the comment section. Anything other than sewersewersewer for heaven's sake. )

Eamon Grennan's another wonderful Irish wordsmith. He also has collected books of his poetry out in paperback. So, go to your local bookstore and support your favorite poets. Buy their books and enjoy. And/or go to the library and check them out for free!


It's the way they cannot understand the window

they buzz and buzz against, the bees who take

a wrong turn at my door and end up thus

in a drift at first of almost idle curiosity

cruising the room until they find themselves

smack up gainst it and they cannot fathom how

the air has hardened and the world they know

with their eyes keeps out of reach as, stuck there

with all they want just in front of them, they must

press their bodies against the one unalterable law

of things -- this fact of glass -- and can only go on

making the one sound that tethers their pure

electric fury to what's impossible, will not change.